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Japan goes into the new year holding first place on the Henley Passport Index Japan goes into the new year holding first place on the Henley Passport Index

Asian Countries Dominate With Passport Power in 2019

Japan goes into the new year holding first place on the Henley Passport Index, with citizens enjoying visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 190 destinations.

In a further display of Asian passport power, Singapore and South Korea now sit in joint second place, with access to 189 destinations around the globe. This marks a new high for South Korea, which moved up the ranking following a recent visa-on-arrival agreement with India. Germany and France remain in third place going into this year, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 188.

The US and the UK continue to drop down the Henley Passport Index — which is based on authoritative data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) — and now sit in joint sixth place, with access to 185 destinations. This is a significant fall from the first place position that these countries held in 2015.

Denmark, Finland, Italy, and Sweden now hold joint fourth place, while Spain and Luxembourg are in fifth. As they have done for much of the index’s 14-year history, Iraq and Afghanistan remain at the bottom of the ranking, with access to just 30 visa-free destinations.

Turkey’s recent introduction of an online e-Visa service has resulted in some interesting changes to the overall rankings. As of October 2018, citizens of over 100 countries (including Canada, the UK, Norway, and the US) must apply for an e-Visa before they travel to Turkey, instead of being able to do so on arrival.

While this specific change means that a number of countries have dropped slightly in the rankings, it does not alter the overwhelmingly positive effect of the wider global tendency towards visa-openness and mutually beneficial agreements. Historical data from the Henley Passport Index shows that in 2006, a citizen, on average, could travel to 58 destinations without needing a visa from the host nation; by the end of 2018, this number had nearly doubled to 107.